HC Deb 14 November 1984 vol 67 c679
59. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress towards a common European Community foreign policy.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Progress is being made within the Community to establish an increasingly strong and effective common position by Community countries on matters where they can sensibly act together on external affairs.

Mr. Knox

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that greater co-operation on foreign policy within the Community remains a principal objective of Government policy?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I certainly will. The increasing use of Community procedures for political co-operation is something to which we attach importance. We believe that there are a number of areas in which we can more effectively act together and we have concerted our policy in that way.

Mr. Ernie Ross

Does the Foreign Secretary agree that one area in which the Community was agreed was that of the Venice declaration? Does he regard it as rather sad that that declaration has not been pursued to a conclusion? Will he take this opportunity to welcome the decision of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to proceed to hold a Palestine national council on 22 November in Amman? Does he recognise that that is an initiative which should be responded to by the European Community partners?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The extent to which the Community was able in the Venice declaration to formulate a common position on the right approach to the Arab-Israel dispute was important. We shall consider at an early opportunity the possibility of making a further contribution to that process.

Mr. Jackson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, while it is essential that the Community should be able to respond to disasters, it is essential also in disposing of the surpluses to which reference has been made that we should not undermine agricultural development in the Third world?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. One of the wider consequences of the production of surpluses within the Community at the expense of the taxpayer is the risk of doing real damage to countries which should be able to generate more successfully their own programmes for food production, and of doing longterm damage on a much wider scale.

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